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Banana Plant Health And Maintenance Topics This forum is for discussions of banana plant health topics such as coloration issues, burning, insects, pruning, transplanting, separating pups, viruses, disease, and other general banana plant health and maintenance issues.


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Old 12-03-2013, 04:28 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Panama Disease TR4

Panama Disease TR4 is on the move...we can all tell our grandkids how much better Cavendish bananas were than whatever replaces it.


New banana disease spreading throughout Africa

Shocked by the outbreak of a new strain of banana disease in Africa, farmers in Nigeria and regulators of the agricultural sector are bracing up to prevent and combat the possible attack of the nation’s plantain-banana producers by the scourge.

The destructive strain of banana wilt disease, which was discovered on Cavendish bananas in Mozambique, has begun to spread to other African nations. The disease, widely known as Foc TR4, is a form of Fusarium wilt or Panama disease, caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. cubense Tropical Race 4. This fungus has devastated banana plantations in Asia over the past two decades.

The African outbreak was discovered on a commercial farm in northern Mozambique earlier in 2013 with support from UEM (Universidade Eduardo Mondlane), and the responsible fungus subsequently identified at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. The Ministry of Agriculture in Mozambique has announced this outbreak via the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention) portal.

Mozambique government officials have visited the farm, and have introduced in-country measures to contain and prevent spread to other parts of the country. A stakeholder consultation meeting to explain the outbreak was held in Maputo in November 2013, and will be followed by similar meetings in neighbouring countries to raise awareness, heighten surveillance and put in place an emergency response plan.

A consortium of partners, including the Mozambique Department of Agriculture, International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Stellenbosch University, Bioversity International, FAO, National Agricultural Research and Regulatory Organisations and government officials throughout Africa are being mobilised to address the outbreak, monitor plantations and raise awareness in Mozambique, the region and continent.
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:57 AM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

When will we ever learn?

When you plant monoclonal crops at any scale you are asking for pathogens to evolve to destroy them. In evolutionary terms, a banana clone cannot outrun a pathogen. Bananas ought to be planted at any scale only in polyspecies, polyclonal settings.

The only solutions - if you want to continue planting large assemblages of a single clone - are:

(1) to breed new versions rapidly. This can't be done with banana;because of the long cycle time and the (still) virtually unknown genetics.

(2) develop even more precisely lethal, expensive pesticides. This takes time and adds cost to the production.

Africa's mistake is listening to conventional wisdom. Africa has shifted from peasant cultivators practising subsistence farming to commercial monoculture farms catering to vast urban markets.

Africa (and the rest of the tropical world) needs to:

(a) plant at least 20 varieties in a plot.

(b) when a disease like FOC hits; destroy the mat; ameliorate the soil with silica etc.; and plant a non-banana species in the spot.

(c) teach farmers to produce value added products - either on the farm or in a related enterprise integrated vertically. A generous portion of the value added must accrue to the farmer.

(d) have its agronomists & pathologists STOP reading from Western metropolitan textbooks; or being brainwashed...oops! er, - educated - at Western Universities.


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Old 12-04-2013, 08:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

All of this is fine and good, but we first must teach the western consumer that there is more than one type of banana. This is not an easy task. Personally, I think that using cisgenesis provides promise in the immediate term. If we could identify the genes responsible for wilt resistance we would move them, using molecular techniques, into a susceptible variety. Beyond that we must figure out what causes suppresive soils. There are areas of the world where the soil conditions are hostile to fusarium wilt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shannondicorse View Post
When will we ever learn?

When you plant monoclonal crops at any scale you are asking for pathogens to evolve to destroy them. In evolutionary terms, a banana clone cannot outrun a pathogen. Bananas ought to be planted at any scale only in polyspecies, polyclonal settings.

The only solutions - if you want to continue planting large assemblages of a single clone - are:

(1) to breed new versions rapidly. This can't be done with banana;because of the long cycle time and the (still) virtually unknown genetics.

(2) develop even more precisely lethal, expensive pesticides. This takes time and adds cost to the production.

Africa's mistake is listening to conventional wisdom. Africa has shifted from peasant cultivators practising subsistence farming to commercial monoculture farms catering to vast urban markets.

Africa (and the rest of the tropical world) needs to:

(a) plant at least 20 varieties in a plot.

(b) when a disease like FOC hits; destroy the mat; ameliorate the soil with silica etc.; and plant a non-banana species in the spot.

(c) teach farmers to produce value added products - either on the farm or in a related enterprise integrated vertically. A generous portion of the value added must accrue to the farmer.

(d) have its agronomists & pathologists STOP reading from Western metropolitan textbooks; or being brainwashed...oops! er, - educated - at Western Universities.


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Old 12-04-2013, 06:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Naranja View Post
All of this is fine and good, but we first must teach the western consumer that there is more than one type of banana.
Nicolas,

Africa has gotten caught in a mess that was not of its own making.

African farmers were subsistence growers using polyclonal culture with a pitifully narrow genetic base. To be sure they were vulnerable to pathogens... but pathogen evolution in pre-20th century banana agriculture was more or less in equilibrium with new clonal generation - especially in SE Asia.

The rise of these banana diseases can be placed squarely at the feet of the 20th century modality of large scale culture for export of dessert bananas.

If you're exporting dessert bananas to Europe or North America, almost by definition you have to grow Cavendish group bananas.

That is a damned restrictive imposition on any solution to the problem.

The issue in Africa, however, is food security - not producing dessert bananas to meet the fastidious taste of people in cooler climes.

One solution is to bring in as many Asian and synthetic new varieties that can be had; and to get them to farmers ASAP.

Once farmers understand that polyculture beats monoculture - especially when they see a few monoculturist colleagues lose their shirts to FOC TR4 - then the varieties and the polyculture techniques will diffuse rapidly at no cost to cash-strapped Governments.

That was and is the African experience with Black Sigatoka.


Will the "developed" countries help Africa in this manner? The track record is against it. Inappropriate assistance is often a millstone.


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Old 12-04-2013, 08:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Those export bananas are responsible for a lot of hard currency entering the exporting countries. Unfortunately, the decision to have export plantations is going to affect subsistence farmers. Unfortunately, a lot of the other varieties don't transport very well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shannondicorse View Post
Nicolas,

Africa has gotten caught in a mess that was not of its own making.

African farmers were subsistence growers using polyclonal culture with a pitifully narrow genetic base. To be sure they were vulnerable to pathogens... but pathogen evolution in pre-20th century banana agriculture was more or less in equilibrium with new clonal generation - especially in SE Asia.

The rise of these banana diseases can be placed squarely at the feet of the 20th century modality of large scale culture for export of dessert bananas.

If you're exporting dessert bananas to Europe or North America, almost by definition you have to grow Cavendish group bananas.

That is a damned restrictive imposition on any solution to the problem.

The issue in Africa, however, is food security - not producing dessert bananas to meet the fastidious taste of people in cooler climes.

One solution is to bring in as many Asian and synthetic new varieties that can be had; and to get them to farmers ASAP.

Once farmers understand that polyculture beats monoculture - especially when they see a few monoculturist colleagues lose their shirts to FOC TR4 - then the varieties and the polyculture techniques will diffuse rapidly at no cost to cash-strapped Governments.

That was and is the African experience with Black Sigatoka.


Will the "developed" countries help Africa in this manner? The track record is against it. Inappropriate assistance is often a millstone.


shannon

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Old 12-13-2013, 02:27 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Fungus threatens top banana : Nature News & Comment

Gmo issues are hitting where I live, just as gmo solutions may be needed in the near future, this is something I posted on a local site in Hawaii where any future GM crops were banned on our island, despite GM papaya having saved the industry, with seed developed at a University and given to farmers for free.

As the above article explains, musa acuminata, which all eating bananas are at least partially, or in the case of cavendish types, totally hybridized from, is genetically resistant to Foc TR4. This fungal disease is spreading around the world and is in China and the Phillipines. It will get here just like Foc TR1 did and is still here in Hawaii. Inserting this naturally occurring gene from the very plant all bananas come from originally via GM technology will be able to save these bananas and thus plantations. But now this is illegal. Instead, cavendish growers will have to resort to massive use of toxic fungicides, which will only slow the spread and not solve the problem. How anyone could oppose putting a banana gene from a banana into another banana directly through GM is beyond me. Because of the GM fear mongering, we could have a far better tasting banana with a much smaller environmental impact grown around the world, but we will not, because consumers would not likely buy a GM banana even if the only modification is inserting a naturally existing banana gene.

This is the sad reality of our new GM crop ban. Hooray, more pesticides! I for one would have no problem with putting a naturally occurring TR4 disease resistant gene into Gros Michel so that GM could again become the dominant banana.

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Old 12-13-2013, 11:36 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

I am curious as to what most of the anti-gmo folks think about moving genes by molecular techniques within a species. It's not like we will lose Cavendish in one year, it will take years. Maybe it will lead to diversity.




Quote:
Originally Posted by robguz24 View Post
Fungus threatens top banana : Nature News & Comment

Gmo issues are hitting where I live, just as gmo solutions may be needed in the near future, this is something I posted on a local site in Hawaii where any future GM crops were banned on our island, despite GM papaya having saved the industry, with seed developed at a University and given to farmers for free.

As the above article explains, musa acuminata, which all eating bananas are at least partially, or in the case of cavendish types, totally hybridized from, is genetically resistant to Foc TR4. This fungal disease is spreading around the world and is in China and the Phillipines. It will get here just like Foc TR1 did and is still here in Hawaii. Inserting this naturally occurring gene from the very plant all bananas come from originally via GM technology will be able to save these bananas and thus plantations. But now this is illegal. Instead, cavendish growers will have to resort to massive use of toxic fungicides, which will only slow the spread and not solve the problem. How anyone could oppose putting a banana gene from a banana into another banana directly through GM is beyond me. Because of the GM fear mongering, we could have a far better tasting banana with a much smaller environmental impact grown around the world, but we will not, because consumers would not likely buy a GM banana even if the only modification is inserting a naturally existing banana gene.

This is the sad reality of our new GM crop ban. Hooray, more pesticides! I for one would have no problem with putting a naturally occurring TR4 disease resistant gene into Gros Michel so that GM could again become the dominant banana.
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Old 12-13-2013, 11:44 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Naranja View Post
I am curious as to what most of the anti-gmo folks think about moving genes by molecular techniques within a species. It's not like we will lose Cavendish in one year, it will take years. Maybe it will lead to diversity.
I'm for moving gene's just not Toxifyin' my banana's.. Don't need no glow in the Dark Banana's. :^)
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Old 12-13-2013, 02:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Quote:
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I'm for moving gene's just not Toxifyin' my banana's.. Don't need no glow in the Dark Banana's. :^)
This is why the GM issue, just like any new technology should be determined on a case by case basis rather than complete bans. Even labeling is problematic when a GM banana that required far fewer pesticides could be better than the exact same banana minus 1 banana gene doused with pesticides. It makes the GM banana a pariah in the market when it would actually be the safer choice for people and the planet. I imagine GM bananas will be commonplace in a century or less, and they could be hugely beneficial and not be controlled by big ag companies either. This is the case with papaya in Hawaii.
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Old 12-14-2013, 05:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

This is exactly how I think we will solve the problem of Panama Disease. And just imagine the possibilities. We could resurrect the Gros Michel!
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Old 12-14-2013, 01:36 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Hi,

As someone who is actually breeding Cavendish & Gros Michel bananas the old fashioned way, I beg that you folks indulge me.

The problem with the export banana segment of the banana "industry" is that it is extremely oligopolistic.

Thus there has been no initiative to segment the market or to develop products. What passes for innovation in this field is a travesty. When Gros Michel failed, the cartel model dictated that they should simply find a substitute good. They did and it was Cavendish. And they found it good. So they rested.

Anyone with the slightest familiarity with pathogen ecology & evolution would understand that Cavendish was a sitting duck from the start. Any monoclonal culture scheme on the scale of bananas is bound to be unsustainable.

Did the breeders understand this? I'm sure they did. Some of them are actually brilliant people.

But the breeder are, for the most part, an integral element of the system. The systems buys the groceries. The system brooks no radical dissent. The system is broken.


There, I've said it. And there's no recanting here.

Now, on to breeding Cavendish types.

Bust the myth:

Cavendish bananas are extremely infertile. Well, yes, Cavendish types are extremely female infertile. Don't take my word for it. Hear FHIA's J.F. Aguilar Morán in a paper on FHIA's 21st Century Cavendish breeding initiative.

"On the assumption that Cavendish cultivars have low fertility, the Banana and Plantain Breeding Program at the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA), starting in 2002, pollinated 20,000 bunches, approximately 2 million fingers, of the Cavendish cultivars ‘Grand Naine’ and ‘Williams’ with pollen from 10 Cavendish cultivars for the development of Cavendish tetraploids. As a result, 200 seeds with 40 viable embryos were obtained, from which 20 tetraploid hybrids were developed."

Whew! 20,000 bunches to get 20 useable progeny. Now that is what I describe as Herculean. Someone give these brave people a medal.

My goodness, FHIA's using 20,000 bunches and poor shannon uses like one.


Actually, Cavendish types often have rather good male fertility and make correspondingly good pollen donors.

So to my thinking, you pollinate many lineages of seedy diploids, backcross suitable progeny of each line of mating to Cavendish for a few rounds, selecting as you go; then do some full sib matings and look for the (as many as possible) segregants that you want. These would be some sorts of diploid "super Cavendishes" with all the bells and whistles but perhaps a tad too much seed fertility.

You then create numerous seed-infertile secondary triploids and encourage polyclonal culture of these "derived Cavendish" bananas to keep the satanic export dessert banana trade going full steam ahead.

So while I have no real quarrel with transgenic bananas; I just want to point out that we haven't scratched the surface of conventional breeding.

I know for sure that bananas.org contains numerous members of remarkable calibre. So my question is: why don't they stand up and say: "Wait, the Emperor is naked! We have to stop breeding bananas with paper bags over our heads."

sincerely,

shannon

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Old 12-14-2013, 10:14 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abnshrek View Post
I'm for moving gene's just not Toxifyin' my banana's.. Don't need no glow in the Dark Banana's. :^)
Did you know ripening bananas glow under black light
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Old 12-14-2013, 10:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

I partially agree with some of what you say. I have read several books and articles about people not liking the taste of the FHIA bananas. I have to wonder if these crititcisms are not just promulgated by the banana industry to avoid criticism about their continued use of disease and insect susceptible cultivars. People at the market love goldfinger bananas. Hell, my best selling variety is Hua Moa and I sell it to people eating it out of hand.
Your solution of polyclonal fields grown by small farmers would be extremely beneficial to me. First it would make bananas more expensive and I am already producing at a decent margin so your plan puts money in my pocket.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shannondicorse View Post
Hi,

As someone who is actually breeding Cavendish & Gros Michel bananas the old fashioned way, I beg that you folks indulge me.

The problem with the export banana segment of the banana "industry" is that it is extremely oligopolistic.

Thus there has been no initiative to segment the market or to develop products. What passes for innovation in this field is a travesty. When Gros Michel failed, the cartel model dictated that they should simply find a substitute good. They did and it was Cavendish. And they found it good. So they rested.

Anyone with the slightest familiarity with pathogen ecology & evolution would understand that Cavendish was a sitting duck from the start. Any monoclonal culture scheme on the scale of bananas is bound to be unsustainable.

Did the breeders understand this? I'm sure they did. Some of them are actually brilliant people.

But the breeder are, for the most part, an integral element of the system. The systems buys the groceries. The system brooks no radical dissent. The system is broken.


There, I've said it. And there's no recanting here.

Now, on to breeding Cavendish types.

Bust the myth:

Cavendish bananas are extremely infertile. Well, yes, Cavendish types are extremely female infertile. Don't take my word for it. Hear FHIA's J.F. Aguilar Morán in a paper on FHIA's 21st Century Cavendish breeding initiative.

"On the assumption that Cavendish cultivars have low fertility, the Banana and Plantain Breeding Program at the Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research (FHIA), starting in 2002, pollinated 20,000 bunches, approximately 2 million fingers, of the Cavendish cultivars ‘Grand Naine’ and ‘Williams’ with pollen from 10 Cavendish cultivars for the development of Cavendish tetraploids. As a result, 200 seeds with 40 viable embryos were obtained, from which 20 tetraploid hybrids were developed."

Whew! 20,000 bunches to get 20 useable progeny. Now that is what I describe as Herculean. Someone give these brave people a medal.

My goodness, FHIA's using 20,000 bunches and poor shannon uses like one.


Actually, Cavendish types often have rather good male fertility and make correspondingly good pollen donors.

So to my thinking, you pollinate many lineages of seedy diploids, backcross suitable progeny of each line of mating to Cavendish for a few rounds, selecting as you go; then do some full sib matings and look for the (as many as possible) segregants that you want. These would be some sorts of diploid "super Cavendishes" with all the bells and whistles but perhaps a tad too much seed fertility.

You then create numerous seed-infertile secondary triploids and encourage polyclonal culture of these "derived Cavendish" bananas to keep the satanic export dessert banana trade going full steam ahead.

So while I have no real quarrel with transgenic bananas; I just want to point out that we haven't scratched the surface of conventional breeding.

I know for sure that bananas.org contains numerous members of remarkable calibre. So my question is: why don't they stand up and say: "Wait, the Emperor is naked! We have to stop breeding bananas with paper bags over our heads."

sincerely,

shannon

shannon.di.corse@gmail.com
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:44 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicolas Naranja View Post
{extract} I have to wonder if these crititcisms are not just promulgated by the banana industry to avoid criticism about their continued use of disease and insect susceptible cultivars. People at the market love goldfinger bananas.

{extract} Your solution of polyclonal fields grown by small farmers would be extremely beneficial to me. First it would make bananas more expensive and I am already producing at a decent margin so your plan puts money in my pocket.
Nicolas,

As to your 1st point extracted: I suspect that there is a case to be made both for and against FHIA.

FHIA (...and in the West, little known IITA, Africa; EMBRAPA, Brasil; and NRCB, India...) face tremendous propaganda obstacles in the metroplolitan press.

FHIA has to counter with puffery of their own (Africa, Brasil & India have their own vast internal markets for their new breeds - which are tailored for these home markets - they don't give a hoot about what others think of them). FHIA must market itself to the world at large - or it will perish. So there is a serious disjunction between FHIA's hype & and the press's spin on FHIA's bananas.


I'd tend to lean on the side of the underdog.

Frankly, I'd like to get my hands on some FHIA AAAAs and the AAAB "Goldfinger" to help get this country (Trinidad & Tobago) out of the Food Production morass within which it has emplaced itself. I'm sure FHIA's vars can make a great difference here on T&T.

Unfortunately, it isn't that easy to land the material... whether sourced from FHIA or the ITC. The problem is on this side. That's why they used to call folks like us the "Third World"... you have to live it to understand it!

Now to your 2nd point.

Polyclonal culture saves $$. It keeps down variable costs and lowers the overall risk profile of the enterprise.

You will make more money... but your prices will be lower... there'll be winners all around!! Pass the banana wine.


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Old 12-15-2013, 10:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

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This is why the GM issue, just like any new technology should be determined on a case by case basis rather than complete bans. Even labeling is problematic when a GM banana that required far fewer pesticides could be better than the exact same banana minus 1 banana gene doused with pesticides. It makes the GM banana a pariah in the market when it would actually be the safer choice for people and the planet. I imagine GM bananas will be commonplace in a century or less, and they could be hugely beneficial and not be controlled by big ag companies either. This is the case with papaya in Hawaii.
I am not against GMO's per se, I am against putting them into the environment without long-term studies. The banana would be the perfect crop to use GMO's with because there is no pollination. If there are negative health impacts, just simply take it out of the environment.
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Old 12-15-2013, 10:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Did you know ripening bananas glow under black light
I'm going to have to check that out.. Banana Black light Party!!! lol :^)
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Old 12-15-2013, 11:19 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

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Originally Posted by shannondicorse View Post
Polyclonal culture saves $$. It keeps down variable costs and lowers the overall risk profile of the enterprise.

You will make more money... but your prices will be lower... there'll be winners all around!! Pass the banana wine.


shannon

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I have polyclonal culture on my own farm, so I am well aware of it. However, the way that the big players keep cost down is by selling a single product and designing everything around it. Everything is designed for Cavendish bananas from the boxes to the reefer ships. And when you move to a polyclonal culture, it takes more management skill as different banana varieties have different requirements. Plants with more erect leaves like Grand Nain and Enano Común can be spaced much tighter than plants with a lower leaf angle distribution such as FHIA-17 or Dwarf Nam Wah
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Old 12-16-2013, 05:09 AM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

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I have polyclonal culture on my own farm, so I am well aware of it. However, the way that the big players keep cost down is by selling a single product and designing everything around it. Everything is designed for Cavendish bananas from the boxes to the reefer ships. And when you move to a polyclonal culture, it takes more management skill as different banana varieties have different requirements. Plants with more erect leaves like Grand Nain and Enano Común can be spaced much tighter than plants with a lower leaf angle distribution such as FHIA-17 or Dwarf Nam Wah
Nicolas,

I acknowledge your argument. I realise that the price maker is the Cavendish cartel.

I always suggest meticulously planning polyclonal fields in advance so you get to design (in crystallographic terms) a close packed 2D structure.

You take into consideration the ecological requirements of each variety in the planning.

Yes, it takes far more management - but a lot of the management is is in the forethought; and the field management remains comparable within an order of magnitude.

You're obviously not the average farmer. The "average" farmer is so caught up trying to tread water that she/he does not have time to innovate or to apply and test a new approach.

On Trinidad as the farmers of late tried to produce more bananas, the imported Cavendish price is dropped to squeeze them further. I guess that the canny importers simply source the rejects that cannot be sold on the North American markets. So I can now buy imported Cavendish bananas on the street for about 60 cents a lb; and really crappy ones for 30 cents a lb.

Fortunately the farmers have "Silk" (manzano), "Sucrier" (pisang mas) and plantains that are not handled by the regional exporters. These can get $1.00 - $1.20 a lb.

Remember Trinidad is a country with an energy distorted PPP per capita GDP in excess of $20,000; and good agricultural land (if you can get it at all) goes for $5,000 - $30,000 an acre.

Try to make money with bananas or cacao in an environment like that!!!

One solution (which you've adopted) is to not focus on Cavendish types.

Additionally, with the plantains, I've now abandoned even suggesting traditional AAB plantains for the newer hybrid plantains - germplasm of which is, of course, near impossible to get because of silly import restrictions.

You can easily import banana fruit - but you can't easily import banana germplasm.

I don't mean to be snide or pejorative - but I think this sort of policy lends new meaning to the phrase "Banana Republic".


shannon


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Old 12-16-2013, 11:16 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

It sounds like your prices are right in line with ours. For Cavendish, Walmart is $0.59/lb and Publix is $0.69/lb. Niño and Manzano tend to be $1.00-$1.29/lb. Plantains vary between $0.33-$0.65 each. My gross income on a bunch runs from about $7 on an ARH to $30 for Goldfingers, Cavendish or FHIA-17. Two distinct advantages I have is that disease pressure is low, and soil fertility in my area is high.
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Old 12-16-2013, 03:43 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Default Re: Panama Disease TR4

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